NRP Zero invests in hydrogen pressure vessel producer

The Nordic cleantech-fund NRP Green Transition I, which is managed by NRP Zero, invests to become shareholder in the fast-growing glass fibre pressure vessel producer Umoe Advanced Composites (UAC). The investment funds UAC’s manufacturing expansion in Norway and Asia.

UAC develops and manufactures advanced lightweight pressure tanks in composite materials, such as glass fibre, and transportation modules for hydrogen, biogas and compressed natural gas. Glass fibre is significantly less costly than for example carbon fibre. Moreover, glass fibre can because of its weight advantage transport 2-3 times more hydrogen compared to similar-sized tanks in steel. This represents major cost and environmental benefits.

“UAC is a global technology leader that is well positioned to win market shares within transport and storage in a rapidly growing hydrogen market. The company’s management has proven that it can deliver strong growth and improved profitability. We are very pleased to invest into UAC and look forward to collaborating with existing owners and the management to develop the company further,” says Carl Petter Finne, Managing Partner in NRP Zero AS, which is the asset manager of NRP Green Transition I.

NRP Zero invests an undisclosed amount for a 10.7 percent shareholding in UAC. The parties have agreed to not disclose the financial details of the transaction.

The proceeds from the investment will be used to facilitate a manufacturing expansion in Kristiansand, Norway, plus an investment in China, where UAC’s Chinese joint venture company is building a manufacturing facility with an estimated annual production of eight thousand pressure vessels. The new facility will provide significant scale advantages and improve UAC’s competitive position in all markets, including China and the rest of Asia.

UAC is majority shareholder in the joint venture company. Other shareholders are Yield Capital and Chinese industrial group Befar Group, which is one of China’s 500 largest companies. Yield Capital is the investment arm of China’s leading technology university, Tsinghua University.

“Yield Capital’s previous investment in UAC contributed towards establishing the Chinese joint venture. We have also ordered long lead items such as machines and other equipment. The new investment from NRP Zero means that we can increase production volumes in both Norway and China quicker than we originally planned. The initial target volume for both manufacturing facilities is twelve thousand pressure tanks annually,” says Øyvind Hamre, CEO of UAC.

The Chinese companies Hypower and Befar Group have already placed a conditional USD 60 million order for hydrogen pressure tanks from UAC.

UAC’s head office and Norwegian manufacturing facility is located in Kristiansand, on the south coast of Norway. During the past year, the company has significantly increased its annual production capacity in Kristiansand. With new machines already in place, UAC will enter 2023 with three times higher manufacturing capacity than the company had in 2021.

To manage the growing demand for the company’s products, UAC has increased its workforce in Kristiansand from 30 to 50 employees during the past year.

Since 2017, UAC has had a compound annual growth rate of 46 percent. The company delivered revenue of NOK 150 million in 2021, which represents a 50 percent increase from the previous year.

“We expect revenue well in excess of NOK 200 million this year. The key is strong focus on operations and our value chain, plus the strategic choice we have made to retain world leading product expertise and specialist competence here in Kristiansand,” adds Øyvind Hamre.

Norwegian industrial investment company Umoe AS remains UAC’s largest shareholder following NRP Zero’s investment, with a shareholding of 64.4 percent. Other shareholders are Yield Capital, UAC’s management and other minority shareholders.

“The demand for UAC’s products is strong in several markets. China has launched its ambitious hydrogen plan, the Biden administration is subsidizing the deployment of hydrogen, and the EU has defined hydrogen as a key component for an emission-free Europe. This represents great opportunities for UAC, which is well positioned to capitalise on this growth, says Thomas Moe Børseth, UAC’s chairman and investment director in Umoe.

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